Within my own immediate family and social circles, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have some sort of mobile device – most of which are in the form of a cell phone with an embedded camera. Most of us not only have cell phones with cameras, but also have iPads or other tablets that have the ability to take still or video photographs. Even in my larger and more extended family and social circles, I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t have a cell phone. There might be a few hold-outs with very basic cell phones that don’t have access to the internet or a camera, but for the most part, everyone I know has some sort of mobile device that they can not only access the internet with, but use to capture on-the-spot photos. One thing I’m noticing about this instant access to a camera is that it’s turning some of us into assholes.
Just because you have a camera at your beck and call doesn’t always mean that no matter what the circumstances are, you should whip it out and snap a photo. In other words, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Sadly we live in a society where the impulse often overrides common sense (I myself have not always been immune to this) and we find ourselves at the cornerstone of doing what’s right and putting the camera away and going ahead and taking the photo. I wrote about this very phenomena a few years ago. To this day, thinking back to when I learned that someone I considered a good friend with a decent head on her shoulders was capable of douchebaggery on such a profound level, I still get angry. Most people go on cruises to enjoy themselves while relaxing, and the last thing they care about is photographing all the other people on the cruise who aren’t perfect specimens of the human physique, then posting those photos (when they get home) on a public forum where she openly mocked the subject of her photos and invited others to do the same! She used both her cell phone camera and a regular camera in order to accomplish this. Think about that the next time you’re relaxing on the Lido Deck of your cruise . . . is the lady snapping pictures with her iPhone actually taking a picture of your cellulite, or is she trying to capture the setting sun on the horizon?
In the more than three years since I wrote that post, our technology has advanced even more – and not only are we catching our fellow humans in less-than-flattering moments in full HD, but we’re using our cameras and videos embedded in our cell phones to publicly shame and humiliate people. Sadly not just adults, but children as well!
Most recently there was a woman who allegedly spent two hours on a train listening to a man and his friends brag about their affairs. So what does she do? She whips out her cell phone and videos the entire thing. Not only did she video the conversation – which in my opinion was completely tacky and tasteless and wasn’t any of her business, she publicly posted the video on Facebook (and was then shared several thousand times over), which has the potential to ruin the lives of those whom she videoed.
I get it, no one wants to sit for two hours and listen to a braggart go on about his conquests, but at what point did we move from rolling our eyes and thanking the powers that be that we don’t know that person, to taking it upon ourselves to shame this person and air his alleged dirty laundry for him? We’ve moved from being a nation who judges situations entirely too quickly as it is, to a nation that now serves as juror too, entirely outside of the courtroom. Sure, if the guy was actually cheating on his wife and not just bragging about imaginary conquests that never really happened (oh come on, we all know men – and some women – like this!) he qualifies for asshole status, I’m not debating that. What I do take issue with is the fact that with all this technology at our finger tips, technology that allows us to instantaneously document every moment of our lives, we’re creating some sort of warped moral code where this sort of behavior is justified and becomes the norm.
I know it’s a hard concept to wrap your head around, but whatever happened to minding your own damned business? At what point did we all deem ourselves worthy of meting out justice on the spot? Whether you believe it or not, Karma is not a fickle bitch and sooner or later, what goes around comes around. This sort of thing is akin to snapping a shot of the morbidly obese woman at Walmart with the ill-fitting leggings and too-short blouse, and then posting it online for everyone to gawk and laugh at. In my opinion, we do this – shame these people publicly because we feel it proves to us, that our lives aren’t as bad as we perceive an adulterer or a poorly dressed obese woman’s lives are, and for that we are grateful. We get off on the bizarre superiority complex it gives us to believe we are somehow better than these people. I think that’s why there are so many insipid reality shows on TV that focus on everything from people with unusual obsessions or addictions to those who have everything in life and more, but yet lead incredibly dysfunctional lives. We’re just thankful we aren’t them. But ask yourself something, if the only way you can feel better about yourself is to humiliate someone else, are you really that much better off after all?
Another recent instance of publicly shaming by virtue of a cell phone, the one that completely pushed me over the edge, was when a lifestyle blogger, “Mish” posted about a trip she took, not too long ago, to the Coca Cola factory in Atlanta. Now, when someone titles a blog post, “I’m really not trying to be offensive . . .” you know right off the bat that it’s going to be offensive. Mish didn’t fail to deliver on the “offensive.”
Mish wrote about how they got to the sampling room and there were what “seemed like hundreds of kids there on a school field trip.” She noted that the kids were going from sampling machine to sampling machine, running around the room “gulping down gallons of Coca Cola drinks from around the world.” Now, you know, if you’ve been reading me for a while that I struggle with morbid obesity and one of the things that has contributed to my struggle is my affinity for Coke. It’s been a problem for years and I’m trying so very hard to break my addiction. The stuff is evil. It’s so bad for the human body. I know this, yet I still drink it. When I say I’d almost rather be addicted to crack, I’m not joking. We don’t let our own child drink soda pop at all. I don’t want to send her down the same path I’m trying to get off of. Do I think sending kids to a company that makes billions of dollars convincing people around the world to consume it’s beverage filled with diabetes producing empty calories is a good idea? No. However it happens. And it happened on the day Mish was there.
From the looks of the photos she posted of these kids (Oh yes she did!) it appears several might have been from the same school as they were dressed similarly. Mish did do the kids a small favor by blocking out their faces, however if you are the parent or a teacher, or even a relative or close friend of any of those kids, you’d be able to identify them.
Posting the images was bad enough, but she made a point to focus on kids who were clearly obese.
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that we need to have a discussion, as a country, about what we’re shoving down our children’s throats, and that we desperately need to curb the awful childhood obesity epidemic that is currently strangling our youth, and that we shouldn’t be sending them on a field trip where they can “guzzle” vast quantities of the crap that’s a huge contributor to this epidemic. However we don’t do that by posting photos of these children and fat-shaming them! You just don’t do that! As soon as she published the post she got comments letting her know that what she did wasn’t cool. A lot of those comments disappeared, but one remained. She’s since closed comments on the post altogether. Gee, I wonder why?
I’m completely apoplectic that the post is still online, as well as the photos, especially in light of all the attention it’s gotten from the likes of Jezebel and even GOMI (the site appears to be down so I’m unable to link to the write up they did). Mish edited the post with the following note, clearly illustrating that she doesn’t understand the concept of allowing these children their privacy.
**Update: I very much understand the sensitivity to privacy and not publishing photos of children without their parents’ permission. This is why I did my best at cropping or blocking their faces out. My point was absolutely not to show these children individually as that is not the point, but to make my point as a generality, as I think the issue of this topic is much larger. I thank you all for your concern with keeping their identities private and feel that I have done enough to do so and still stick with the purpose of this post.
Fat kids get enough grief and bullying from their peers and sadly even from some of the adults in their lives, I don’t really think they need any more from a shallow lifestyle blogger who doesn’t understand the concept of privacy.
Over the almost-decade that I’ve been publicly blogging, I’ve pulled some stupid stunts. I’ve published things that went beyond the pale and then removed them when I had some time to think that this forum really isn’t the appropriate place to air certain issues. Sometimes my anger has gotten the best of me when I’ve been faced with circumstances that seemed almost impossible. So I blogged about them. I’d like to think that over the nearly ten years I’ve been out here, I’ve learned a little and become more familiar with the concept that just because social media is an available platform to air these issues, or post certain photos, doesn’t mean I should. Again kiddies, it’s like I said earlier, just because you can, does not mean you should!
Personally, I don’t like the direction society is going when it comes to the instantaneous sharing of other people’s private moments, especially when those moments, when aired publicly and without concern for the consequences, have the power to not only shame and humiliate, but to potentially destroy lives.